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The Historical Works Of Venerable Bede

CONSTANTINOPLE is bounded on all sides except the north by the sea, which extends from the great sea to the walls of the city, sixty thousand paces, and from the walls to the mouths of the Danube, forty thousand. The circuit of the walls, which are angular, according to the line of sea, is about twelve thousand paces. Constantine was at first disposed to build it in Cilicia, near the sea which separates Europe and Asia, but on a certain night all the iron tools were carried away, and, when men were sent to fetch them, they were found on the European side: for there it was the will of God that it should be built. In this city is a church of wonderful workmanship, called the church of Saint Sophia, built up from its foundation of a circular shape, domed in, and surrounded by three walls. It is supported to a great height on columns and arches, and has in its inmost part, on the north side, a large and beautiful closet, wherein is a wooden chest with a wooden lid, containing three pieces of our Lord’s cross, that is to say, the long timber cut in two, and the transverse part of the same holy cross. These pieces are exhibited for the adoration of the people three times only in the year, namely, on the day of our Lord’s supper, the day of the preparation, and on the Holy Sabbath. On the first of these, the chest, which is two cubits long and one broad, is set out on a golden altar with the holy cross exposed to view: the Emperor first approaches, and after him all the different ranks of laymen, in order, kiss and worship it: on the following day the Empress and all the married women and virgins do the same; but on the third day the bishops and different orders of the clergy do it, and then the chest is shut and carried back to the closet before mentioned. As long as it remains open on the altar, a wonderful odor spreads through the whole church. For an odoriferous liquor like oil flows from the knots of the holy wood, the least drop of which cures every complaint which a man may be afflicted with.

“Descripsi breviter finesque situsque locorum,

Pagine sacra magis quæ memoranda refert,

Beda, sequens veterum monumenta simulque novorum

Charta magistrorum quæ sonet inspiciens.

Da, Jesu, patriam semper tendamus ad illam,

Quam beat æternum visis summa tui.”

Thus have I sought in these few words to trace

The form and site of every holy place.

For this memorials of past times have brought,

And from each writer new instruction sought.

Grant, Jesus, that in Heaven we all may rest,

And be for ever with Thy presence blest!








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